Microsoft Corp has issued further details of new reporting and business intelligence features that it plans to introduce into its present and future SQL Server relational database platform.
Microsoft said the current release, SQL Server 2000, as well as the planned SQL Server 2005 release, will both benefit from closer links to Microsoft’s Exchange and CRM applications.
Microsoft has rolled out free SQL Server Report packs for Exchange Server and CRM applications. The packs bundle in customizable templates based on Microsoft’s recently released enterprise reporting engine SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services, and work with Microsoft’s Exchange and Microsoft CRM 1.2 systems. For example, reports built off Exchange could determine email folder size or report on recent email activity.
Microsoft is also offering its Microsoft Operations Manager with Reporting Services. The next version of its Visual Studio development platform, which is due next year, will also come with new reporting controls that users can easily embed in SQL Server Reporting Services applications.
At the back-end, Microsoft’s Data Transformation Services ETL engine will be renamed SQL Server Integration Services, bringing it in line with Reporting Services and Analysis Services components.
DTS is already a part of SQL Server 2000. Microsoft said that subsequent versions will extend the range of transformations and bolster loading capabilities. Also planned is an ability for the ETL engine to consume web services and load them into the database. Some of these capabilities are expected to appear in SQL Server 2005.
At the front end, SQL Server Analysis Services, which is an OLAP analysis client for SQL Server, will be upgraded with richer data mining algorithms and clustering capabilities for regression, segmentation, sequence, and association analysis as well as text mining. Key performance indicator development tools will also be added to the Analysis Services engine.
Finally, Microsoft will also rename its recently acquired ad hoc reporting ActiveViews technology as Reporting Services Report Builder. The technology will appear in the third beta release of SQL Server 2005, which is slated for the end of this year.
Microsoft is certainly prepared to throw resources at SQL Server in its bid to make it a fully fledged enterprise BI platform. Since releasing the first BI-embedded version of SQL Server – SQL Server 7, codenamed Plato – in 1999, the company has fleshed out its platform with ETL, data mining, reporting capabilities, and has also taken a lead in developing BI data interchange standard OLE DB for OLAP.